Coldplay Live 2012…

I’m so glad that Coldplay Live 2012 is available on Netflix.  I love to watch it… I’ll never in my life forget attending this concert.  I’ll never forget how alive I felt, standing there next to my favorite person in the world, listening to my favorite band in the world perform some of my favorite songs in the world.  Watching it again at home allows me to relive the moment.

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Best Album of All Time: Third Eye Blind’s Self-Titled Album – These songs made me.

Sometimes, you just want to talk about a thing.  This is one of those times.  I just want to talk about my love of this one album.  Third Eye Blind’s first album, self-titled, released in early 1997.  I feel like I literally became an adult while this album was on repeat.

Back in the day, before iPods and iPhones and other various forms of MP3 music, we had CDs.  And we carried around a Sony Discman.  And it said it had anti-skip technology, but that was a damn dirty lie!  But I digress.  My point is, I didn’t own any CDs that I could listen to straight through without hitting the “next track” button… except one.  You guessed it.  Third Eye Blind’s self-titled album.

This was one of those CDs that I could put into my anti skip sony diskman portable CD player on repeat for days and days on end.  Sure, I had my favorites, but each song struck a nerve with me at some time or another, and every song’s lyrics still live in my mind and heart to this day.

I was young… puberty was a bitch, my parents had divorced, I hated my stepdad and my mom just had a baby.  Life was less than appealing in those days.  So, I spent a lot of time listening to music, feeling ways about stuff, and just generally being a melancholy, apathetic, aloof, angsty teen.  This album seemed to somehow put me back together when I was in pieces, sooth my life anxieties, yet it also has that edge to it that would metaphorically scream, “fuck yeah!  I’d be mad too!  parents suck!” just when I needed it.  What follows here is a track list of the only album that I love 100%, and sort of a brief ode to each song.

Losing a Whole Year – The resounding first line of this album: “And I remember you and me used to spend the whole god damned day in bed”… one of my favorite lyrics to scream at the top of my lungs!  This song had an upbeat riff to it, even though the lyrics were decidedly your standard alternative fare.

Narcolepsy – “I can feel this narcolepsy slide into another nightmare.” This song is a good for teen angst.  “There’s a demon in my head that starts to play a nightmare tape loop of what went wrong yesterday, and I hold my breath til it’s more than I can take, and I close my eyes and dream that I’m awake.”  Incidentally, I can remember thinking it was ironic that both track 1 and 2 have to do with sleeping or losing sleep or being in bed because I listened to this a lot through my headphones when it was my turn to do my brother’s midnight feedings when he was a baby.

Semi-Charmed Life – Here it is, the quintessential song that people bought the CD for.  A great song that, for me, has continued to be a good listening experience.  It’s one of those songs that most people my age just have to sing along to.  “I want something else to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life…” unknown to me at the time, the song is about drugs.  I was an innocent child and when I think back to that innocent nerd kid singing these lyrics and not knowing what I was saying, I have to laugh.  The part where he says, “and the four right chords can make me cry” is another favorite line of mine.  So true.

Jumper – “I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend; you could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in.”  This song was kind of a sleeper hit.  A long time after the album came out, after I already knew all the words to every song on it, they started playing Jumper on the radio.  Odd timing, but it was cool with me.  Then they overplayed it, like the radio ALWAYS does, so it was a little jaded for a while.  It’s really a great song though.  I knew a pathological liar in high school who was really a good guy deep down inside, but he literally kept everyone at arm’s length because he was such a liar.  I always think of him when I hear this song… I wonder where he is these days.

Graduate – One of the harder songs on the album, this one feels good when being a standard angry teen or reckless teen or just plain feeling like you’re not moving forward in life.  Awesome guitar riffs here, and the raw almost-yelling vocals hit the right spot every time for the times I wanted to just fucking throw something, but didn’t because I didn’t want my mom to be mad at me.  :/

How’s it Going to Be – The third and final “top 40” from this list, this is another song that the radio ran into the ground for a while.  But what an awesome song.  I had lots of breakups with this song as the soundtrack, and for that matter, I had several ruptured friendships and other teen drama bullshit that went along well with this song.

Thanks a Lot – A little more of a punk beat to it, but it’s not too hard.  “I woke you up and I slit the throat of your confidence”… man it’s hard to beat lyrics like that.  This song drips sarcasm and I just love it.

Burning Man – This one is a neat song, with a cute and catchy riff that has always reminded me a little of a Sugar Ray song.  It’s not that it’s so unlike the other songs on this album, but it does have it’s own distinct rhythm.

Good for You – “All I wanna do is be there for the things that you’re going through…” With it’s underlying sexual references and slightly shallow lyrics, if I had to cut a song on the album, I suppose this would be it.  But to be honest, I still love it.  It’s still a good song.  It’s just that there’s nothing particularly memorable or specifically awesome about it.  But it’s solid.

London – Love this one.  This one has plenty of emotions running through it, from “I don’t wanna go to London” to “I wanna get my hands on you” and “I know just what’s on your mind”, and even “we’re no good for each other”.  This song reminds me of some friends I had in school that were FWB and it ended up ripping their hearts out over and over and over again.  I always thought the whole FWB thing was overrated, personally.

I Want You – Another fave.  This one just feels right, when you’re at the dance, and you see the person you think is just the shit standing across the room, this song comes floating through your mind.  “You do, you do, you do… you make me want you.  I can’t get enough.” It’s a very nice love/lust song that’s not at all sappy or jaded.  I still love it.

…and so we come to the last 3 tracks on this album, which are, collectively, quite possibly my favorite songs ever.  (EVER?  Yes.  Perhaps.)

The Background – I shed a lot of tears to this song.  Ohhhh the feels.  “Everything is quiet since you’re not around.  I live in the numbness now, in the background… the plans I make still have you in them”.  I felt this way about several friends and relatives that I lost over the years.  This is really, truly, completely, such a great song.

Motorcycle Drive By – “And there’s this burning, like there’s always been.  I’ve never been so alone, and I’ve never been so alive.”  “There’s things I would like to do that you don’t believe in.  I would like to build something, but you never see it happen.”  These lyrics sit right with me, as I’ve always been a loner and although there are a ton of people in my life that I love, there’s always this burning to do the things that I want to do, but others don’t believe in it.  “I go home to the coast, it starts to rain, I paddle out on the water alone.  I taste the salt and taste the pain but I’m not thinking of you again.”

God of Wine – This song is in my top 10 list of favorite songs of all time.  It is absolutely woven into my soul.  “I walk home alone with you and the mood you’re born into.  Sometimes you let me in, and I take it on the chin.”  “She takes a drink and then she waits, the alcohol it permeates, and soon the cells give way; it cancels out the day.”  I just can’t get enough of this song.

I really hope you enjoyed this sick sad inner monologue about how awesome I think this album is, even though I’m pretty sure it was just another alt rock 90’s album to most people.  Check out some of the songs and let me know what you think!  Alternatively (ha pun), if you have an album that you listen to all the way through without skipping tracks, I wanna know!

-T. Ham

Random Music I Love – M83 “Intro”

I was surfing WordPress this week and stumbled upon an amazing blog that I have no shame plugging here. It’s called The Last Song I Heard, and it seems to be one man’s musical life journey, written down into neat little journal-esque blog posts for his son to read later. Great idea, great blog.

To pull from that idea, I decided to jot down a few random songs that I love, that I think are worthy of a blog post.  I realized through his blog that journaling via music is a great way to capture moods, feelings, memories and a portion of one’s life that may never come back.

I’ve decided to start with the first song from M83’s “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming” album (which is amazing, in my opinion) titled simply “Intro”.  The song features Zola Jesus, who has sort of an ethereal voice that fits very well with the wispy/dramatic/chord driven music that M83 are known for.

“Intro” starts quietly and slowly builds, feeling VERY nostalgic with the band’s typical heavy synths, rolling eventually into a full-scale assault on your emotions.  It’s hard to listen to the song and not feel some emotion, but the weird thing is that the emotions felt are shapeshifters.  Sometimes when I hear it, I’m reflective and can’t shake my first heart break, other times I feel uplifted and inspired, like I could conquer the world using only my thumb.  But mostly I feel better about things.  It’s the kind of song that seems to say, ‘no matter where you are in your life, or what you’re doing, no matter what goals you’ve met or haven’t met, it’s okay…you’re okay, and you’re right where you’re supposed to be.”

Like many of M83’s songs, it starts with a low sound that can be described as little more that noise, the noise builds to synth chords, then a child whispering.  It’s impossible to understand all the lyrics – and sometimes I think maybe that’s what M83 is going for.  It doesn’t bother me, because it ends up being akin to the musical version of a Rorschach painting – you hear bits and pieces, and your brain fills in the rest with what you want (or subconsciously need) to hear.

I have no idea what M83’s intent with the lyrics are.  I can’t even decipher most of them.  But I think that, for me at least, the uplifting part of the song is the one repeating lyric that I can certainly understand: carry on the song tells me.  We all are one I hear at another point.  The human race as a whole must carry on, work together.  The beat and chords push me onward in a weird way, most notably when Zola Jesus starts singing and there’s a bass drum backbeat that feels not unlike my heartbeat.

Before you know it, the song bursts into a full orchestral and choral production, with no real lyrics, and forces my brain into recollection overdrive.  I start thinking about everything in my life I’ve ever done wrong, and how I wish I could go back.  Mixed with those memories are flashes of all the really good, warm feelings I’ve ever had, the times I helped someone, the times I laughed so hard my face hurt, the times I’ve been truly moved by something or someone.  Pain and guilt transcends to warmth, love, joy and finally when I get to the point that I think my heart might explode from all the emotion, it stops.  Almost as quickly as it started, my brain just stops.  Because the music has stopped… we’re back to a chorded drone sound now, and the synapses in my brain are still smoking from the fire, pieces of old memories still glowing from the inferno.

This is typically the part where I take a deep breath and look around.

Carry on…

Nerd Workout Playlist

I’m so glad that headphones were invented.  If people could actually hear what I workout to, I’d get laughed off the treadmill and onto the recumbent bike.  They probably wouldn’t let me near the freeweights anymore, either.

However, dear readers, since you don’t work out at my gym (hopefully) and therefore can’t make fun of me while I’m trying to maintain my physique, I’ll tell you what’s on my workout playlist.  And yes, thanks, I know I’m a nerd.  But not I’m not a thick glasses/jeans with tennis shoes kind of nerd…I’m a pop culture enthusiast nerd.  Let me ‘splain:

1. Driving with the Top Down by Ramin Djawadi from the Iron Man soundtrack: this song inspires me and makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.  It actually makes me smile while I sweat.

2. Percussion Gun by White Rabbits from the It’s Frightening album: I can’t really explain what this song does to me.  It feels almost like being angry in a happy way.  I know that makes no sense.  The persistent drumming in the background really keeps me going.

3. Blow Me Away by Breaking Benjamin:  Yeah, I know!  This is kind of a normal song you might think, but you’d be wrong.  If you’ll recall, it was used during a particular badass section of Halo 2 gameplay.  Total nerd redemption.

4. Canned Heat by Jamiroquai:  There’s few mental images better than Napoleon’s exquisite Vote for Pedro dance.  ‘Nuff said.

5. Take a Look Around by Limp Bizkit:  I don’t really like Limp Bizkit any more than the average person, but THIS Bizkit song rocks the Mission Impossible theme as its spine, and there’s nothing better than a little secret agent work while you’re in the gym.

6. Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins:  TOP GUN!!  NEED I SAY MORE?!?  I HAVE TO YELL BECAUSE IT’S LOUD UP IN THIS JET!!  And having two Tom Cruise movie songs back to back is only incidental, I promise.

7. Wake Up by Arcade Fire:  Okay so this is not really a song that pumps me specifically, but it’s almost 6 minutes long and I love it so much that it makes 6 minutes feel like 2 minutes…which is good when you’re on a treadmill.

8. Square Pegs by Pain:  Do you remember the awesomeness that was the Midgets with Guns album?  If you don’t, then you’re probably WAAAAAY cooler than I was in high school.

9. The Theme Song from Metal Gear Solid 2:  I’m deeply sorry that I have no idea who wrote or performed this song.  But it’s one of the most awesome video game songs ever.  I really don’t like games where you have to be all sneaky/crouchy/silencer etc, but this song made it all worth while.

10. Training Montage by Vince DiCola:  Yep.  The one from Rocky.  This is the most epic 80’s montage song ever.  It’s such an epic montage song that it has the word ‘montage’ right in the freaking title!  Can you imagine?!?!?  Following this up directly with “Eye of the Tiger” is certainly recommended.  If you got it, flaunt it.

-T. Ham

The most recognized song in the USA?

The song Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd has been in more movies than Clint Howard.  Why?*

*You must understand that when I ask “why?”, it’s not sarcastic or smarmy.  I’m not saying, “It’s a crap song, so WHY would it be in so many movies?”  I’m saying, “What is it about this song that draws?”

I’m not a big country music fan.  For the sake of pop culture, of course, I’ve heard quite a bit of it.  I do live below the Mason-Dixon line after all, but with skyscrapers on three sides of the building I live in, I’d hardly call myself rural.  However, I do like most southern rock, and while Sweet Home Alabama is a bit more twangy than most southern rock, I wouldn’t feel bad about telling you that it’s on my top 100 list of favorite songs ever.  Maybe even in the top 50.

It starts off with a guitar riff that is easily one of the most recognized melodies ever; love it or hate it, you recognize it.  Then, Ronnie Van Zant literally commands his audience to “turn it up”.  I always do.  Out of respect, of course; the man asked me to do something, I’m not just going to ignore him!  Funnily enough, “turn it up” was never actually meant to be part of the song.  Ronnie was asking his producer and engineer to turn up his headphones’ volume so he could hear the track better.  The rest is history.

Another fun fact:  at around 56 seconds into the song, you can hear producer Al Kooper doing his best impression of Neil Young’s Southern Man, ever so faintly in the left channel.  Apparently, this is just another instance of the crew goofing off in the studio.  Gotta love hidden lyrics!

Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” does a good job of paying homage to the Skynyrd classic without it being a remake/refake.  It’s somewhere in between and really sums up ideals and emotions that a lot of people that grew up listening to Sweet Home Alabama can identify with.  Good job, Kid.

Sweet Home Alabama will always be a song that reminds me of good times.  If I hear it when I’m down in the dumps, I can’t help but smile.  And until I’m dead or deaf, I’ll always “turn it up”.

-T. Ham

FREE THE BEAST!

So I took a little break.  Alright, okay, I took a big break.  This is my first blog post in exactly one year.  It’s time.

(Opens door to cryogenic freezing chamber)  Let’s see, what have I missed in the past year?  What th-  I leave you people alone for 12 months and this is what I come back to?

The gulf has turned into oil, a Dances With Wolves remake topped Titanic’s box office numbers, and a Madonna-ish he/she is singing about poker faces?  Are you sure I only slept for a year??  To quote Marty McFly, this is heavy.  Who’s the president, a black guy?  OH…MY….GOD.

Okay well, technically I was wide awake and blogging for election ’08 but still, there have been quite a few significant changes in the world since I last blogged.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

Any old business?  Let’s start with a clean up…(deletes a ton of old posts that are no good)…there, that’s better.  Breathe in that clean, fresh air.  No need for a ton of stale posts stinking up the joint.  I kept some of my favorites.  Now, on to new business.

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How’s that going to fit in my pocket?  Are pants pockets bigger in the future?  Ohhh, it’s supposed to be like a laptop.  But there’s no keyboard.  And really no way for me to see it while I’m typing because it lays flat.  So…it’s not like a laptop at all then.  It’s more like a….well, a really big ipod.  Hmm.  I think I want one.  I’m not really sure why but I think I have to have it (clicks “add to cart”).  No.  Must…wait…til…next…generation…It will be worth the wait, I just know it!  Sigh (clicks “remove from cart”).  ipad 2nd gen will have a camera.  I just know it.

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How come when I get a care package I only get *one* but that guy gets like, FOUR?  That’s not very fair.  Cheaters.  I wish I wouldn’t have entered prestige mode.  I miss my AK.  And I DESPISE heartbeat sensors and noob tubes!  They should make some types of gameplay that nix of that kind of stuff.  If you’re so retarded that the only kills you can get are from a grenade that you automatically dropped after I SHOT YOU IN THE FACE, then you’re pathetic.  You don’t even deserve to hold a grenade.

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Hello Robert Downey, Jr.  All cleaned up now?  Good!  Welcome back to acting, Hollywood missed you.  Ha, wouldn’t it be funny if you got cast as characters with drinking or drug abuse problems?  What’s that?  Oh.  My bad.  I didn’t realize that your last two roles were Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes.  Don’t feel bad…according to Wikipedia, the mind-altering narcotics that Holmes was known for were legal substances in 19th century England.  And Stark’s a very collected drinker.  He doesn’t get drunk and make an ass out of himself…what’s that?  Oh.  I guess he does in part two, huh?  Didn’t realize.  At any rate, it’s great to have you back.

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Justin Bieber:  stop, man.  Just stop.

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In short, my dear fans, I have loved every minute of my hiatus, however,  I’ve missed you all dearly.  I’ve missed writing.  I’ve missed the level of responsibility that comes from forcing myself to watch things like Giant Octopus vs Mega Shark for the sole purpose of saying that I saw it and being able to discuss it.

There will always be some new or old piece of pop culture on which to wax philosophical.  I’m here to stay.  Don’t everybody thank me at once.

-T. Ham